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Sometimes our work at Baha’i Blog is similar to what I imagine detectives do: follow clues, answer questions, and make discoveries. Word trickled down to the Baha’i Blog team about the work of Simina Rahmatian and we were eager to find out more. And I’m so glad we did! In this images post, we’ll partake of a gallery of her work and then Simina shares with us what inspires her and what she’s working on.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Romania. By the time I was 7 years old the Revolution had taken place and the Romanian Communist Party had dissolved. One year later, my parents divorced and about two years after that, my mother became a Baha’i and both my brother and I were swiftly being immersed in a new reality. In the 90’s, our home in the mountain city of Brașov, was a hub for visiting pioneers, travel teachers that became our mentors. It was a time of learning and discovering a sense of community, true friendships and meaning, that also helped me recognise my own artistic potential. Having received praise and encouragement from the friends and with constant support from my family, I enrolled in Art School as a junior youth and continued on that route all my years as a student, completing my studies at Bucharest National University of Arts. During my second year at University, I married Bahman and started a family. At this time we are co-habitating with our two adolescents: Sepideh (15) and Daryan (13). Since arriving in the capital city, my involvement in the administrative aspects of the Baha’i Faith gradually increased, serving in the National Spiritual Assembly for the last 10 year now (5 as a Secretary).
Baha’i Blog: What type of art do you create?
The Art Schools took me through many types of art, media and techniques: from sculpting, carving, to photography, graphic arts, mural and glass painting, but I am mainly a painter. A few years ago, while teaching art at a Turkish Cultural Centre, I discovered Ebru art, a traditional Ottoman art of painting on the surface of water. I enjoyed this technique very much, so I became one of the first Romanian Ebru teachers. One of my favorite genres is portraiture, over the years my children having served as necessary study subjects for me. Many of my works are landscapes of nature or buildings, most of them done in pencil, ink and pen. Teaching art and also being a teacher for Baha’i children classes made me love illustrating children’s books. We prepare together short animations, shadow theaters, origami and special materials and crafts for the classes.
Baha’i Blog: What inspires you?
Everything! People, nature, words (sacred and profane), all 7 arts, family, community, virtues, suffering…
Baha’i Blog: What is your creative process like?
It is a bit difficult to explain, but it is as if there is an instant translator into imagery at work in my head. A walk outside, scrolling through some photo or art albums, watching a play, a dance, film, listening to music or a conversation, reading the Writings, sometimes even looking out the window or in the mirror gives me flash images of paintings and compositions in my mind. Of course, not all remain, many disappear with a blink of an eye, some ideas become notes in my journal, a few of them sketches and some develop into concrete projects. It is a bit of a struggle of course to complete the projects once started and maintain motivation. For me having a collaborator encourages me (the author of a book I illustrate, for instance) and being able to consult with my husband or friends about my work helped me keep my enthusiasm. I also find that when the art I do has a sure destination – for instance – I know it will be used to bring joy to children, I feel very empowered. I like to have a few different projects running at the same time and alternate from a demanding long term engagement to a lighter short creative expression and back. Not doing any artwork for a long time affects my wellbeing and all aspects of my life are much improved when my artist hands are not shackled. I have noticed creativity has a mysterious way of brightening up the most boring clerical chores and even makes house chores seem breezy.
Baha’i Blog: What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I am extremely happy to continue working with Mr. Julio Savi, a mentor, “maecenas” and a true friend, on a second illustrated album, in the wake of having created Sites of the Bábí Faith (you can read more about it here: https://bahaiworld.bahai.org/articles/julio-savi) on a project entitled: “In the footsteps of the Master.”
Another book I am illustrating is The Chosen Path: Tahirih of Persia and Her Search for God by Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman. This book hopes to provide junior youth with tremendous inspiration and the courage needed for them to choose their own path, fulfilling their educational dreams and service to humanity.
A smaller project for the Romanian community is another illustrated book for children and junior youth inspired by the tales of the Dawn Breakers as told by William Sears. These illustrations are a daring combination of Ebru Marbling paper technique and ink drawing.
At the beginning of the pandemic, as we were preparing for the self isolation, I purchased a large canvas that is still intimidating me with its blank whiteness… but it will be conquered!
Baha’i Blog: What are some words of encouragement you might give to someone interested in pursuing the arts?
Art is a wonderful gift to yourself, everyone else and even to God. It is not just a way to pass the time, a hobby, something to occupy children with or an escape for sensitive souls…It is a powerful way to explore the world, discover spiritual mysteries, deepen insights and it should be made available for all people to enjoy. Artistic expression as an activity enriches lives and exercising art in itself educates and expands our sensibilities and intelligence. Titles like Artist or Amateur don’t matter. Do not be intimidated by results that may differ from what you first imagined. Embrace the unexpected and the discovery… Keep working! Art is a way of digesting concepts and filtering emotions. Sooner or later the artworks will convey more and more accurately the message intended, until the artist and the art mirror each other in an always unique and magnificent way.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Simina, for taking the time to share your art and your warm words with us! We wish you all the best with your future artistic endeavours!
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